:: Article

Excerpt: Everyday

‘The Roof’, by Lee Rourke.

It was two o’clock in the afternoon on what had been announced the hottest day of the year so far. Irvine Doyle had been sitting at his desk, staring into his snazzy new flat-screen monitor since eight o’clock that very same morning. Apart from, that is, the hours of eleven and twelve when he counted the pigeons that glided past his window and the multitudinous rooftops of London. He counted four hundred and forty three give or take a couple, although he realised he could have been counting the same group over and over again. This didn’t concern him. Irvine Doyle quite liked pigeons.

He was now alone. His colleagues were at the pub, he had been asked to go but had politely declined the offer — much to the perplexity of his fellow colleagues. Irvine Doyle didn’t usually turn down such invitations. Anything would usually suffice to get himself out of the office for a while. But this particular day was quite different, a thick cloud of inertia had suddenly descended out from the ether, it cloaked Irvine Doyle with indifference. He simply didn’t care what he did, or what was happening. Such feelings had never manifested themselves in such a manner before. Irvine Doyle didn’t quite understand what was happening to him.

The office was quiet; just the perpetual mechanical drone of the air-conditioning unit reverberated throughout the building [imagine a gleaming structure that seemed, at first glance at least, to be made solely from glass]. Irvine Doyle momentarily looked away from his snazzy flat-screen monitor and turned to look out of his window, peering down across the company courtyard to the building opposite [imagine a red brick uniformed affair, erected circa 1930 most probably when office blocks of this type looked modern and clean in design and didn’t serve as a huge blank canvas for Banksy-like graffiti on every conceivable façade]. This building across the company courtyard, which Irvine Doyle looked at most days, was now occupied by squatters. Most days he would look over to the new, arty, occupants gathering for tea, exercise or whatever it was he thought they were doing on the roof.

That roof, how Irvine Doyle wanted to be on that roof on that particular day; just sitting, drinking wine, smoking whatever it was he thought they smoked, bathing under the sun, reading a book, enjoying his own time whilst looking over to the office workers in the towering, modern, glass affair across the spotless courtyard and grinning to himself, safe in the knowledge that he didn’t have to spend his days chained to his miserable desk. This small, personal thought that belonged solely to Irvine Doyle was bliss, utter untouchable bliss.

Irvine Doyle would turn away and close his ears when his colleagues, who sat around him, would utter their dissent:

Why don’t they just get jobs?
Why don’t they pay their taxes like everyone else?
Why don’t they earn their own money instead of spending their parents?
Why don’t they contribute to society?

Irvine Doyle would turn away, he’d ignore the glib comments and nod his head, feigning acquiescence when he thought appropriate, wishing quite secretly that he was on that roof instead of there, by his miserable desk, trying not to listen to his colleagues’ protestations.

He looked back over to his snazzy flat-screen monitor, he had thirty-two unopened emails to read — all of them work related. He switched off his PC. He looked back over to the roof. At first he thought it was just a man sawing wood on a work bench or something, but then he noticed that the young, rather muscular, man was naked. Then he noticed, little by little, the wondrous naked woman in front of the muscular young man, kneeling, and her round, shapely, heart-shaped arse there for all to see, the muscular man furiously pumping his prick into her, rhythmically without a care in the world. Never had Irvine Doyle seen such disregard, such open unashamed freedom, such dazzling vanity. It was sex, a coming together, not just for the two participants, but for all. It was a defiant slap in the face to each and every office worker peering down upon them, a primal scream announcing to all that there was another way, that you didn’t have to follow the herds, that you could stand out from the drones, that you could shine, no matter how absurd you looked.

Irvine Doyle continued to look down, across the roof, over the company courtyard towards the hypnotic spectacle of the muscular young man and the brazen woman fucking like crazy for all to see. It was the greatest thing he had ever witnessed. It was magnificent. It was defiant. Even the pigeons had stopped to have a look. He counted fifty-four in total. The copulating couple continued their heavenly pursuit regardless.

He immediately walked over to the looming window, he watched their every move, and it was a peculiar pornography, somewhat more tangible than he was used to. It was as if he could feel their pleasure, their release, their shocking abandon, their base indifference to the mechanisms around them: the city and its manipulated occupants governed by its tentacle-like reasoning, tickling, persuading, forcing each decision, each business meeting, each deal and it was theirs alone — and it always would be — and for that golden sun drenched moment on that rooftop they knew it and Irvine Doyle knew it and everyone else who had caught a sneaky peek knew it too. He thought them more than magnificent; he thought them ethereal, superhuman even. He felt beneath them and it was like they knew something about existence he never could, so he continued to watch them, mesmerised by their outlandish brilliance, wishing it was him, wishing he was there and not where he was. Wishing he understood life enough not to care about it.

Soon the dazzling copulation finished, both the muscular young man and the compliant woman stretched and looked over to Irvine Doyle’s office — it was as if they knew he was there, all alone, watching them. It was as if they had put on the whole show especially for him, in order to prove a point that had been staring him in the face for a long time, a point he’d been waiting for all his working life.

He watched as they put their discarded clothes back on: a t-shirt here, a thong there. Soon they rolled and lit-up a giant spliff, each inhaling the dark blue smoke into their awaiting lungs like cold fresh water.

Soon Irvine Doyle’s colleagues returned from their boozy lunch, chattering and laughing. He watched as they dumped their coats and bags by their desks before rattling their computers to check their emails on their equally as snazzy flat-screen monitors. At that moment he decided not to inform his colleagues about the live performance that had happened just a few moments ago below them on the roof across from the company courtyard, instead he decided to compose a letter of resignation and deliver it to his immediate Line Manager that very afternoon. And, inwardly, he would dedicate that eloquently written letter to the muscular young man and the shapely woman on the roof and he would tell no-one about that either, as Irvine Doyle knew that in moments such as he now found himself, unlike the muscular young man and the beautiful woman on the roof, it was much better to keep things to himself.

This is excerpted from the forthcoming Everyday, Social Disease, London.

Lee Rourke is a Mancunian. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Scarecrow and a Reviews Editor at 3:AM Magazine. His collection of short stories Everyday will be published by Social Disease in 2007.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, April 20th, 2007.